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Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

Speak and communicate

Collaborating With Your Child

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 12:44 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Daddy Helps Brooke

Most adults just want to do things FOR the child. Why? It’s so much easier than teaching them to do it.

Let’s take cleaning up after meals for instance. You have two choices, you can clean the table for them, that takes about 30 seconds. OR you can have them do it. Then you have to figure out where to put the dirty dishes, how they will wipe the table, where to put the sponge, how they will clean their hands. And then once you’ve got the logistics down, you have to show them how to do it and then enforce it over and over and over and over and over…

One is clearly easier than the other. But one will make you feel like it’s Groundhog’s Day and you are playing the role of the slave, while the other gives your child the opportunity to practice motor skills, develop attention to detail, learn sequencing and give him a sense of independence that lead to happy, secure, confident children.

So you pick.

For those of you courageous and conscientious enough to take the second route, I have a piece of advice. When you are teaching your child to clean up after meals (this really applies to everything, but I’m just using this as an example), collaborate with them. Young children cannot do it all on their own all at once. They will be able to eventually, but it can be overwhelming at this age. So I’ll say, “Let’s clean up together. I’ll put the bowl and the plate  in the dishcart and you put the spoon in the dishcart.” OR “Let’s clean up together. You put this bowl (I’ll pick it up from the table) in the dishcart.” Then I’ll hand them the plate for them to put in the dishcart, the spoon, etc.  As long as they are doing something toward cleaning, that is what you’re looking for. Even if at the end, you feel you did most of the cleaning, if they participated, then you are on the right path. Gradually, over time, you can pull back and they can do more. There will be regression on bad days. If they are tired or cranky, don’t force it. Don’t punish them for not cleaning. Instead, use these words often, “Let’s do it together!” Even if you end up doing most of it that day, let it go. Tomorrow, when they are in a better place, they will do more of it.

I have a lot empathy for little ones. Transitioning from a baby in mama’s arms where everything is done to becoming your own little person – it’s a big transition. If you’re willing to collaborate with them, it’ll make their life –and yours – a little easier.

How I talk to my children when I’m frustrated with them

Friday, October 26th, 2012 3:45 pm | By Stephanie Woo


Brooke cutting paper into tiny pieces at 10pm last night

Last night, Brooke wouldn’t go to sleep. I could tell she wasn’t tired, so I let her come out to play for a while (see picture above). By then Mackenzie was already asleep. When I took Brooke back to her room and tried to leave, she started crying. Not wanting to wake Mackenzie, I stayed with Brooke till she fell asleep at 1130pm. The whole ordeal took 3.5 hours. I was about to pull my hair out.

I woke up this morning extremely frustrated. Brooke came over to give me my usual morning hug and I said, “Who would not go to sleep last night?” Her hands dropped and she frowned. I then asked my nanny if Brooke was doing this during her afternoon naps, she said no, she always falls asleep quickly. Then I said, “But two nights ago you stayed with her till she fell asleep, right?” I added, “Brooke never did this before!” I could tell that my nanny got upset because she thought I was saying it was her fault that Brooke was doing this. What I really wanted, but could not get across, was my desperate need for a solution.

I went upstairs and cooled down. I could tell the way I was communicating was upsetting everyone. I was taking my frustration out on them, but it didn’t make me feel any better. And then I remembered Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication.  He said to communicate your feelings and your needs. I decided to give it a try.

I went downstairs, picked up Brooke and sat her on my lap. My nanny was there too, which was good because I wanted her to hear it too. I said, “Brooke, last night you did not go to bed by yourself. I was feeling extremely frustrated because I need my freedom at night. Do you know what ‘freedom’ means? Mama needs freedom at night. Tonight, would you be willing to go to sleep by yourself?”

These simple phrases changed the entire space in the room. My nanny, who looked glum and angry before, had a empathetic look on her face when she said, “I do always pick her up immediately when she cries. Maybe I should wait before picking her up and let her cry a little.” Oh, it was such a relief that she was trying to find a solution too.  

Upon reflection, I realize I love Non-Violent Communication because of the way it makes me feel and the reaction I see in others when they hear my words. I was able to 1. express my feelings 2. communicate my needs and 3. make a request. I also love being able to talk to my children in this way – it’s clear that they understand every word. This is the kind of communication and connectedness I want to foster in our home.

Brooke clearly had a need last night too.  Looking back, I realize we did not go to the park yesterday afternoon, so she wasn’t able to run, climb and use up all her excess energy. Today, I’ll make sure to meet her needs. Hopefully tonight, she’ll meet mine.

To learn more about Non-Violent Communication:

We Don’t Share

Monday, October 15th, 2012 11:19 am | By Stephanie Woo


Brooke and her stroller

You know how when two children play together, the toy someone else is playing is always the BEST toy in the room? This is when I always hear parents and caretakers tell their children, “Sweetheart, you have to SHARE.”

Imagine this: you’re at dinner at a beautiful restaurant with your partner and two friends. The food comes and everyone starts enjoying the food in front of them. Then your partner turns, nudges you and says, “Honey, you should share your food with your friends.” How does that make you feel? Depending on the day, I can imagine I would have any or all of these responses, including “What, why? It’s MY food.” “Why do I have to share? Why don’t you share YOUR food?” and flat-out “um, NO.” Frankly, everyone else at the table would consider your partner to be nothing but plain rude. As adults, we respect someone’s right to share. We value sharing when it comes from within. If you have to ask someone to share, it’s not really sharing.

That’s why you never hear the word “share” in our house.

Two weeks ago, Mackenzie was playing with a toy stroller and Brooke wanted it. I heard the screaming and found Mackenzie holding onto the stroller while Brooke was trying to yank it out of her sister’s hands.  I got down to their eye-level, turned to Brooke and said, “Brooke, can you say, ‘Mackenzie, when you are finished, can I play with it?’” I gave Brooke 1 or 2 words at a time so she can repeat them after me. Then I turned to Mackenzie and said, “Mackenzie, when you are finished, can Brooke play with it?” She nods yes.

Brooke still wanted it and tried to take it from Mackenzie, I said, “Mackenzie is not finished playing yet. You can play with it when she is finished. Do you want to read a book or listen to music?” Brooke lets it go and goes to play with something else.

Five minutes go by. Brooke is upstairs. Mackenzie climbs up the stairs pulling the stroller behind her saying, “Brooke! Brooke!” She’s done playing with it and she’s ready to pass it on!

We’ve been doing this ever since they’ve started fighting over toys, maybe 4-5 months ago. This is the most effective communication tool I’ve experienced with toddlers. Speak their language and toddlers can be so reasonable it would surprise you. The next time Brooke is playing with something, she knows she will receive the same courtesy: she gets to play with the toy to her heart’s content and no one else can play with it till she is done. When a child knows this, she will have all the patience in the world to wait her turn.